Salvations and Miraculous Healings
While the people of Montego Bay, Jamaica are used to tourists pouring off cruise ships every week, they weren’t expecting the more than 1200 cruising Christians from Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship’s (TACF’s) Catch the Wave cruise and conference at sea in March 2006. This time, the tourists came to serve in a one day mission that would see four thousand people fed, dozens healed and an untold number saved.
The festivities began with Georgian Banov, the cruise’s worship leader, leading a musical procession through the streets playing his fiddle, standing up through the sunroof of an old Toyota bus. His prayer team followed on foot ministering to the thousands of office workers and students who were taking their lunchtime break on the streets of downtown Montego Bay.
Many of the poor from the squatter camps that surround Montego Bay had walked into the city to eat a free lunch at the Catch the Wave Outreach and found themselves part of Georgian’s parade. Cruisers formed a “fire tunnel” lining up along each side of the street to bless the cars as they drove by. Cruise speaker, Bill Johnson remarked, “That’s what I call a car wash!”
There were more smiles and friendly greetings than most people encounter on a cruise.
Georgian’s procession worked its way through town to the park which was the site of the outreach while cruisers set up tents and a large stage with a sound system to host the Catch the Wave Gospel Concert. Montego Bay’s own Chicken Pan Men erected a huge makeshift BBQ of concrete blocks, metal mesh sheets and charcoal to prepare thousands of chicken quarters for the feast of Jamaican jerk chicken. Some of Montego Bay’s best Chicken Pan Men were brought together by the more than 20 local churches who had partnered with TACF to prepare the outreach dinner.
Church leaders of different Christian denominations including Evangelical, Baptist and Catholic united to help cruise ship Christians put the outreach together. As they formed a team and overcame the obstacles together, the project ended in an unprecedented blessing not only for the recipients but for the servers.
Missionary Heidi Baker prayed for a woman she had found in one of the squatter camps until a cancerous tumor growing on the woman’s back suddenly fell off, and she was miraculously healed. The Catch the Wave prayer teams, who were trained on the cruise ship for the outreach, joined with prayer teams from the local churches to lay hands on a blind man. God healed him. They also laid hands on a young woman who was demon possessed and brought her the peace of knowing Jesus. The anointing at the outreach that day was so strong that two people who had spent their entire lives unable to hear finally heard the prayers being said for them and were cured of their deafness.
One lady from California was completely cured of debilitating chronic migraines when her eyes met Carol Arnott’s eyes. There was no physical touch, no words were spoken, no acknowledgement made. It was just another quiet, powerful intervention of the type that had graced Catch the Wave from the moment it set sail.
Michael Kneffley, a retired businessman from Pennsylvania, handled crowd control along the food lines. He kept smiling even through the heat and sun of the afternoon. After being approached for the third time by a TACF staffer concerned for his health, Mr. Kneffley sighed and in a patient voice explained, “I’m fine. I just look old.” Later that night, his wife told other Catch the Wavers that her husband was exhausted but had had a great time and was registering for Catch the Wave 2007. God healed his exhaustion and carried the blessings from the Jamaica Outreach through to the onboard conference session later that night with Speaker Bill Johnson and Worship Leader Lindell Cooley.
Speaking that night under the stars in our ship’s huge outdoor theatre, Bill Johnson shared how God always makes things as difficult as possible before a spiritual breakthrough. The hundreds of volunteers received an impartation of divine strength. They had worked hard all afternoon serving more than four-thousand chicken lunches, picking up garbage under a merciless sun, maintaining crowd control and spiritually guiding hundreds of non-Christians who had showed up for a free lunch.
They all limped into Bill Johnson’s meeting that night. By the end of it, these same workers were jumping up and down and roaring through the fire tunnels that stretched from one side of the ship to the other. People then went to the night buffet for snacks and gathered in small groups for more prayer before heading back to their cabins.
The next morning the ship’s largest public venue, the Princess Theatre, was packed for R.T. Kendall’s Bible study session. Many pastors onboard the ship had been blessed with the cruise by their congregations. Dr. Kendall urged us all to pray daily and told us how in the busy lives of church leaders, too many find themselves with less than five minutes a day for personal prayer. Catch the Wave helped give these men and women of God an opportunity to replenish and refresh.
WAVE OF PEACE
As the week wore on, it became harder to tell which passengers were a part of Catch the Wave and which were not. Peace permeated the entire ship. A senior crew member from South Africa named Dow commented that the ship felt unusually peaceful and that others on the ship’s staff had noted that the other passengers seemed more gracious and patient. “It’s like a wave of calm,” said Dow, moving his arms in a gentle waving motion.
As TACF Youth Pastor Anthony McLean pointed out, “We cruise ship Christians are the only Bible many of our fellow passengers will ever read.
We may not have the instant gratification of knowing we have brought someone to Jesus onboard Catch the Wave but our acts of kindness and compassion will have served as beacons of divine light to guide the lost to our Lord God.”
Among the passengers in our group were also non-Christian husbands, wives and children who had never attended a regular TACF conference but who joined Catch the Wave to keep their loved ones company. Many “dipped a toe” in the River of God during our evening soaking under the stars on deck with Kelly Warren.
Catch the Wave 2006 was both a floating revival and an inner voyage of discovery for everyone who came up on deck for worship and soaking under the stars.
We saw the Lord unite the Christians of Montego Bay and fed the poor. We saw God heal people miraculously and were able to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with another nation as well as the nations represented by the ship’s employees who hailed from places such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Poland, India and other nations where we would never have been able to go.
While we may have all put on a few pounds from the buffets aboard ship, the spiritual gains far outweighed the problem. Many of this year’s cruisers have signed up for Catch the Wave 2007 when we will all come together again for outreach and refreshment in a 7-day Southern Caribbean voyage on the new “Crown Princess” luxury mega-ship. Why not join us?